P&H HC | A case involving illegal detention of workers treated as a complaint under the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976; High Court allows petition

Punjab and Haryana High Court

Punjab & Haryana High Court: While deciding a petition invoking the writ of Habeas Corpus, Karamjit Singh, J., allowed the same by granting the desired relief to the petitioner.

The instant petition has been filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India for issuance of a writ in the nature of Habeas Corpus seeking directions to the respondents to get the detenues released from the illegal detention of the respondents. Counsel for the petitioner, Aditya Partap Singh submits that and pleads for the deputation of the District Magistrate, Sonepat as the adjudicator. He also requests the Court to issue a direction to respondent 2 to treat this petition as a complaint under the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976.

The Court while deliberating over the petitioner’s prayer, relied on the judgment of this Court in the case of Murti v. State of Punjab, LPA No. 32 of 2013. The relevant paragraph from the judgment is reproduced below:

“It may be mentioned here that the allegations of the appellant in the writ petition are that the alleged detenues mentioned in para No.3 of the writ petition who are working as labourers at the brick kiln of respondent Nos. 4 & 5 are being kept as bonded labours. There can indeed be no doubt that if a labourer has been detained as bonded labour, it amounts to an offence under Sections 16 & 17 of the Bonded Labour (Abolition) Act, 1976. We, however, clarify that the aforesaid observation does not mean that the allegations levelled by the appellant have been accepted. Suffice it to observe that under the Act, the District Magistrate is under statutory obligation to hold a fact finding enquiry as and when a complaint alleging violation of the provisions of Bonded Labour (Abolition) Act, 1976 is received. Since the appellant in the instant case has specifically averred that the persons mentioned in para No.3 of the writ petition have been detained as bonded labourers, we allow this appeal and set aside/modify the order dated 9.1.2013 passed by the learned Single Judge to the extent that the petitioner’s writ petition is disposed of with a direction to the District Magistrate, Sangrur, to treat this writ petition as a complaint under the 1976 Act and take immediate action in accordance with law, within a period of one week from the date of receiving a certified copy of this order along with a copy of the writ petition.”

In view of the above, the petition has been allowed with a direction to respondent 2 to treat this petition as a complaint under the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976 and take immediate action in accordance with law.[Rahisoo v. State of Haryana, 2020 SCC OnLine P&H 1783, decided on 23-10-2020]


Yashvardhan Shrivastav, Editorial Assistant has put this story together

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